The cellular source of HIV RNA circulating in blood plasma remains unclear. Here, we investigated whether sequence analysis of HIV RNA populations circulating before combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) and HIV DNA populations in cellular subsets (CS) after cART could identify the cellular sources of circulating HIV RNA. Blood was collected from five subjects at cART initiation and again 6 months later. Naïve CD4+ T cells, resting central memory and effector memory CD4+ T cells, activated CD4+ T cells, monocytes, and natural killer cells were sorted using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter. HIV-1 env C2V3 sequences from HIV RNA in blood plasma and HIV DNA in CSs were generated using single genome sequencing. Sequences were evaluated for viral compartmentalization (Fst test) and migration events (MEs; Slatkin Maddison and cladistic measures) between blood plasma and each CS. Viral compartmentalization was observed in 88% of all cellular subset comparisons (range: 77-100% for each subject). Most observed MEs were directed from blood plasma to CSs (52 MEs, 85.2%). In particular, there was only viral movement from plasma to NK cells (15 MEs), monocytes (seven MEs), and naïve cells (five ME). We observed a total of nine MEs from activated CD4 cells (2/9 MEs), central memory T cells (3/9 MEs), and effector memory T cells (4/9 MEs) to blood plasma. Our results revealed that the HIV RNA population in blood plasma plays an important role in seeding various cellular reservoirs and that the cellular source of the HIV RNA population is activated central memory and effector memory T cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases